This elaborate water vessel was intended for handwashing. A specialty of metalworkers in German-speaking lands for centuries—from the twelfth to the fifteenth—they are called aquamanilia, from the Latin words for water (aqua) and hand (manus).
Broad-chested, mane protruding, and mouth open, the lion is unabashedly proud and alert. To create this exceptional king of the beasts, the artist first made a rough clay model and then molded wax around it. Next he coated the wax with a mixture of brick, clay, and ashes before melting the wax to form a space that could be filled with molten metal.
Gross, London ; Sotheby's, London British (July 7, 1994, lot 16)
New York. Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. "Lions, Dragons, and Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages. Vessels for Church and Table," July 12, 2006–October 15, 2006.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8, 2013–May 9, 2013.